Is Cookstown suffering from a social housing deficit?

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Has Cookstown become a poor cousin to the other big towns in the new Mid-Ulster council area, in terms of social housing?

Figures obtained from the Department of Social Development by Patsy McGlone MLA seem to point to a social housing deficit in Cookstown in comparison to Magherafelt and Dungannon.

According to the statistics, over the next three years there will be no social housing built through the Housing Executive’s Social Housing Development Programme. In the same period 235 social houses will be provided to those in need in Dungannon.

Magherafelt is served little better than Cookstown with only 20 houses planned in the same three-year period. Even then these will not be on-site until 2017/18.

The SHDP is approved on a three-year basis, but the figures mean that 92 per cent of the social housing built in Mid-Ulster will be in Dungannon over the next three years.

The figures don’t get any more attractive when looking back over the past five years; only 19 social houses were completed in Cookstown. Since 2009/10 Magherafelt had eighty completions while Dungannon, again, figured highly with 273 social houses being completed.

We will, of course, continue to monitor any change in demand for Cookstown and the other areas mentioned and plan accordingly - Housing Executive

A spokesperson from the Housing Executive said: “Based on figures for March 2010-2014 for the Cookstown area, the Housing Executive concluded a five-year projected need (to 2019) of 70 units.

“In December 2014 a scheme for 58 dwellings went on site at Burn Road. This, together with the re-allocation of Housing Executive and Housing Association properties, as well as private rented sector provision, is expected to largely satisfy need. The Housing Executive guides housing associations to areas of unmet need for developing new social housing.

“The provision of suitable schemes depends on a variety of factors including the identification of sites, purchase of land and obtaining planning permission.

“Until the Burn Road scheme came online housing associations historically have had some difficulty getting sites in the Cookstown area.

“No new build is planned during the period 2015/16 – 2017/18 for the former Omagh and Strabane council areas. We will, of course, continue to monitor any change in demand for Cookstown and the other areas mentioned and plan accordingly.”